Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Combing through the Twitter chatter

What if you walked in to a room of say, a million or so people? What would you say? What conversation would you listen to?

Here's the thing - there's no microphone, there's no powerpoint, and everyone is talking at once. There's an odd thrill to having a conversation in a room that big, where anyone might pop in and listen - or talk.

But what if that room were a virtual room - not a room at all. And what if all those people were doing different things, living their lives and just giving random updates about what they are doing, reading, eating, whatever. - Now you have Twitter.

I've spent the last week or so trying to understand the value of this stream of Tweets (the short messages people enter on Twitter). What exactly can you do with it all?

1. Open an account (it's free) - it's the first step. Decide if it is a personal/professional/corporate "you" out there. This will effect your username and bio information.

2. Start searching. Go to http://search.twitter.com and enter some terms specific to your business - see what comes up. If you find a series of terms that work well, save them as a search so you can repeat - you can even send them to an RSS reader so they'll come up for you in Google or similar site.

3. See if people are talking about your company or product. What are they saying? Here is your chance to be a fly on the wall. Forget focus groups - these are real customers and prospects.

4. Start following people that interest you - see what they have to say. Don't be afraid to "unfollow" someone, it's not a "dis" like unfriending on Facebook.

5. Find items of interest and respond to the person's post. This will likely get you a few followers who are interested in what you have to say. Be honest, answer a question, give your opinion.

Congratulations - you've entered the world of Twitter. I'll see you there.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting started with Social Media

It's been a while since I did a "tips" column on the blog, and everyone seems to be talking (or tweeting) about social media (SM) these days. So I thought it would be a good time to publish some tips for companies that are getting ready to go Social.

1. Understand online personae - keep in mind that your customers may not find it appropriate to connect with you on Facebook. Perhaps following your Twitter feed or subscribing to a newsletter/blog makes more sense. People, especially in business, frequently maintain multiple online personalities. If active in social media, they understand the value of keeping personal and work, or even corporate and independent interests separate. Example: profile on LinkedIn versus Facebook

2. Go where your customers and prospects are - remember, the Internet is a searcher/buyer medium. Your strategy should include ways to "be found", rather than to reach out and find people proactively. Examples: SEO for google/yahoo, topic-driven searches, robust search-friendly online content.

3. Use humor when you can - nearly every viral campaign with outstanding results includes some element of humor. Find ways to poke fun at yourself. Examples: Blendtec's Will it Blend, and other YouTube phenomena

4. Open a channel to listen - chances are, people are talking about your product and/or company. Listen and respond to those people, or your competitors will. Examples: follow a group of customers/prospects on Twitter (passive), Salesforce.com "ideas" function (community building)

5. Devote time and resources to a social media plan. Even if it is a small scale effort, it will take attention from a marketing manager to implement and adapt. If you don't have the internal expertise, get advice or help from outside. Make sure your plan clearly articulates your objective for using social media. It will come in handy when you need to explain it to others, and helps you stay focused on why you're entering the SM space. Example: contact me (link at right) with your info and I'll email you a one-pager.

Want to hear brief but pithy commentary about the life of an agency gal on the move?
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